Parent Calls Attention to School Bus Safety - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Parent Calls Attention to School Bus Safety

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We are well into the 2012 school year.  By now…motorists should be aware of school bus safety.  But it seems some panhandle drivers may not be paying close attention as they should.  Details in this News 13 Problem Solver report.

John Gordon of Washington County says it is not a new problem…cars passing school buses slowing down or stopped.  Gordon brought his concerns to News 13 and says, " They put on the yellow lights…everybody thinks it is a free pass and start passing."  He provided pictures he says he took of cars passing buses at a stop on Moss Hill Road in Washington County where his four children catch the bus.  According to Gordon, "sometimes they( the bus) will be stopped yapping on their phones…fly right through."  Gordon says he has even tried to stop the speeding drivers himself.  He told us, "I have gone out there to try and stop them…they go in the grass go around me…just keep on going."  He says he has taken his concerns to Washington County School officials and law enforcement.  But, Gordon says that has not brought much of a response so far.

This is not a problem unique to Washington County.  News 13 has captured video in fact of cars passing a stopped school bus preparing to unload students at a location on Panama City Beach.  Sgt. Marc Tochterman of the Bay County Sheriff's Office says, "buses have orange lights that flash first. Once those red lights start flashing. They should come to a complete stop."

Here are simple safety tips to keep in mind for motorists:

  • According to state law, if you are going the same way as a school bus that is flashing red lights and has the arm extended, you must stop behind the bus.
  • If you are going the opposite way as that stopped school bus, you must stop in front of the bus.
  • You are permitted to move if you are traveling in the opposite direction of a stopped bus and the street or the road is divided by: a physical barrier, a raised median or an unpaved space of at least 5 feet.

Sgt. Tochterman also says, "all school buses stop at all railroad crossings.  If you are following too close. Not paying attention and they stop, you will go up underneath one.  Biggest thing we have problem with…kids on the corner in the morning.  They are very unpredictable... if you see a bunch of kids on the corner slow down."

John Gordon tells me he along with other parents along the bus route would like to see more of a presence from Washington County law enforcement.   Hopefully that can happen soon.